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I love to cast vision. In fact, I know that if I’m not careful when I’m helping a church develop its small group ministry, I could spend 90% of our time just dreaming and imagining together. The problem is, at some point we need to plant our feet back on the ground and get to the practical nuts and bolts of how to design and support a small group ministry.

I had a great time casting vision for a wonderful group of folks in Minnesota. I love to go to this church because it’s so warm and vibrant. Besides that, they “get it” when it comes to mission. Anyway, I painted a picture for small groups that share life together, focus on spiritual formation, and are centered around missional living. The group caught it. They quickly imagined what their groups would look like if they became the catalysts for serving in community.

While we were cleaning up, one brave soul sought me out to tell me a bit of her story. When she first came to this church she needed a group of people who would meet her in a very difficult place in her life. If the only groups available were groups focused on serving the community, she wouldn’t have been able to be a part of them and probably wouldn’t have stayed with the church. In fact, because life still isn’t easy for her she admitted that she still needs a support group to focus on “me”.

I learned two things. First, I believe this woman has found a support group that helps her focus on “me” but in the context of the “we” of the group. They are supporting one another through their shared lives. Secondly, I need to remember that part of developing a disciple-making, mission-shaped small group ministry means offering safe places for those who find themselves needing extra support as they go rough patches in life. There are times when all we can do is step back and let God and people minister to us in order to bring us back to health and wholeness.

So thank-you, brave soul, for getting my head out of the vision cloud back into real life.

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